Thursday brought a deluge of news related to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” below is a sampling of the major developments.
DADT added to key Senate committee hearing
The Senate Armed Services Committee designated an hour of its Feb. 2 hearing on the Defense Department Authorization bill to specific testimony about “don’t ask, don’t tell” from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chair Adm. Mike Mullen. This is separate from the DADT-specific hearing that has not been officially scheduled yet but is expected to take place in early February.
Senate Armed Services Committee
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.:
To receive testimony in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2011, the Future Years Defense Program, the 2011 Quadrennial Defense Review, and the 2011 Missile Defense Review.
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.:
To receive testimony relating to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
At the Pentagon…
The Wall Street Journal reports that Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen "have been and continue to work on an implementation plan for ultimately achieving the president's goal of repealing 'don't ask, don't tell.'"
"Next week they will share that plan with Congress," he added.
MSNBC reports that the Defense Department may implement an interim policy that eases the number of discharges and investigations that take place under the policy. This possibility is a concept that President Obama asked Gates to explore last summer.
At the time, Gates referred to it as “a more humane” way to implement the policy. Part of the consideration may be what kind of information rises to the level of prompting an investigation into someone’s sexuality.
Speaker Pelosi v. Chairman Skelton
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about the policy during her weekly press conference Thursday.
Question: And then, secondly on, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” Chairman Skelton recently said on C-SPAN that he would oppose efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the House. Do you see yourself playing a role in this tension between the two, or are you going to be on the sidelines?
Speaker Pelosi: In terms of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” this is a principle that — repealing it has been something that has been very important to many of us. The leadership of Patrick Murphy — I think we have 180, something like that, co-sponsors for the legislation and the commitments of many more people for those votes.
I respect our chairman enormously, Chairman Skelton. Perhaps, as General Shalikashvili has said, the time has come to end it. Now, what would you replace it with? Let's see some principles of nondiscrimination in the military, whatever. But it is not just about yes or no. It is about let's have a very positive policy to go forth. So every patriotic American who wants to serve our country will be able to do so without being discriminated against.
Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Urged Immediate Action
In a joint release with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the day of the State of the Union, retired General John Shalikashvili said “it was time” to end the policy.
“As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline," Shalikashvili said in a statement Wednesday.
The retired general, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs when the policy was initiated in 1993, wrote a New York Times editorial in 2007 declaring his support for ending the gay ban slowly and carefully, but this is the first time he has called for immediate action.
Sparring Lawmakers on the Hill
Statements from Republican Sen. John McCain and House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner asserting that the policy is working and should not be repealed were met with counter statements from Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. Joe Sestak, Jerry Nadler, and Alcee Hastings.
Senator Joseph Lieberman reiterated his supportfor repealing the policy. Fox Business Network
"As a matter of fact I voted against it when it first came in," Lieberman said on Fox Business Network, "It just seems to me you ought to judge a member of our military by how they perform in the military and not by their sexual orientation."
While Rep. Ike Skelton, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said he still opposes changing the policy.
"We're in the middle of two wars," Skelton told reporters. "And I don't want anything that is disturbing or upsetting to the troops."